A Traveler’s Guide to Santiago, Chile
Visiting Santiago Chile is a must! This enchanting capital city offers the best of both worlds: the breathtaking Andes mountains and one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world.
Chile is Latin America’s number one safest country. Six million people inhabit Santiago de Chile, making it the 7th largest city in the Americas. According to an Economist Intelligence Unit study, Santiago is the second-best Latin American city to live in.
Spanish conqueror Pedro de Valdivia founded the city under the name of Santiago del Nuevo Extremo (Santiago of the new extreme) after the apostle Santiago in 1541.
Read on to discover Santiago’s colonial traditions, Andean culture, tasty cuisine with prehispanic and European influences. Santiago truly has it all.
¡Visitemos Santiago de Chile!
Let’s visit Santiago Chile!
What To Know Before Visiting Santiago Chile
Santiago’s weather is regularly mild with winter rains and a long dry season. Winter in Chile is during half of June, July, August, and half of September.
The Santiago Chile airport is one of the most efficient ones on the continent, making it an important center of flight connections between America, Europe, Oceania, and Asia. The Santiago Chile time is GMT-3.
10 Things to Do in Santiago Chile
1. Plaza de Armas – Main Square
Visiting Santiago Chile means going to the Plaza de Armas. The main square has green areas that provide plenty of shade, as well as security cameras and free wi-fi.
The National History Museum on the square houses lithographs, paintings, religious images, flags, uniforms, furniture, and more.
The neoclassical Metropolitan Cathedral is made up of the Archbishop’s Palace, the Sagrario Parish, and the temple itself.
The picturesque Central Market is 4 blocks away, the Chilean Museum of Precolumbian Art one block away, and the National Museum of Fine Arts is 5 blocks from the square.
2. Cajón del Maipo and Roan Jase Observatory
The Cajón del Maipo is an Andean canyon enclosed between hills, massifs, and cliffs. Its rivers, glaciers, and volcanoes make it an ideal destination for ecotourism. Trekking, horseback riding, kayaking, and rafting are some of the activities here.
If you’re visiting Santiago Chile between April and October, go stargazing. Witness the majesty of the night sky for yourself with naked eyes in Cajón del Maipo. If you prefer to use a telescope, check out the Roan Jase Observatory.
3. Cerro San Cristobal – San Cristobal Hill
From Metropolitan Park, get to the San Cristobal Hill by cable car while visiting Santiago Chile. The most iconic thing about this place is the giant statue and the Sanctuary of the Immaculate Conception, inaugurated in 1908.
Inside the natural complex are two outdoor pools called “Tupahue” in Quechua (“a place of God”) and Antilén in Mapudungun (“where there is sunlight”). Both operate from November to March. The Japanese Garden is an expansive zen area and a famous viewpoint from which to admire the city while visiting Santiago de Chile.
4. Grand Santiago Tower and the Views of Sky Costanera
La Gran Torre Santiago (Grand Santiago Tower) is an almost 1000 ft (305 m) tall skyscraper that is the first to have an express elevator that travels around 200 ft (61 m) in 7 seconds. It is the tallest tower in South America and the second tallest in Latin America (after the Torre Obispado in Monterrey, Mexico).
This postmodern building is a must-see when visiting Santiago Chile. It’s part of the Costanera Center that includes a mall, two hotels, and two office towers. Check out the 360° city viewpoint on floors 61 and 62.
5. Inca Lake in Portillo
The Andes mountains surround Laguna Inca (Inca Lake). Depending on the season you’re visiting Santiago Chile, there may be snow-capped peaks as well as deep blue or emerald waters at this “Jewel of the Andes.”
According to Inca folklore, Illi Yupanqui was in love with Kora llé. They got married on one of the Andean peaks, but she accidentally fell and died. He decided that the only place worthy of her burial was in the depths of the lake. As her body descended, the waters turned the emerald color of her eyes.
See also: 10 Bucket List Places to Hike in South America
6. Parque Bicentenario – Bicentennial Park
When visiting Santiago Chile, take a walk in the Bicentennial Park to see sculptures by artist Hernán Puelma after eating in the nearby Restaurante Mestizo. Soon, you’ll be able to stop at the NuMu or Nuevo Museo de Santiago (New Santiago Museum).
The 74 acres of the Bicentennial Park has three parts:
- Paseo de los Plátanos (Banana Walk) which is the park perimeter
- Explanada Central (Central Esplanade) where the activities take place
- the Talud
The government dedicated an area for blind people called “The Garden of the Blind” with cultural and social activities and zones:
|sounds of water||los sonidos del agua|
|songs of the birds||los cantos de los pájaros|
|giant chess||el ajedrez gigante|
|material and texture recognition for kids||los reconocimientos de materiales y texturas para niños|
|special children’s games||los juegos infantiles especially|
7. Cerro de Santa Lucía – Santa Lucía Hill
This urban park is at the heart of Santiago has an area of more than 700,000 sq ft (65,032 sq m) and its castle is 206 ft (63 m) high. Conqueror Pedro de Valdivia arrived in Chilean land on February 12, the day of Saint Lucia. He named the hill and constructed the city of Santiago there.
It was home to two large estates during colonization, the National Astronomical Observatory since 1857 and a military guard in the period of the reconquista (reconquest), when they built two castle-forts. The one in the photo below has gothic and neoclassical features.
8. Centro Cultural Gabriela Mistral – Gabriela Mistral Cultural Center
Gabriela Mistral was an educator, humanist, poet, and diplomat—as well as the first Latin American and fifth female author to win a Nobel Prize in Literature.
The Centro Cultural Gabriela Mistral (Gabriela Mistral Cultural Center), or GAM, is a two-building complex with 10 rooms for shows, conferences, and exhibitions; a recording studio; a library; a restaurant; and beautiful outdoor patios.
GAM has a stunning stained glass ceiling by artist Juan Bernal Ponce that you can’t overlook while visiting Santiago Chile.
9. Valle Nevado
Valle Nevado is a ski resort in the foothills of El Plomo. The 2,200-acre resort was founded by French entrepreneurs who got their inspiration from Les Arcs in France.
When visiting Santiago Chile, come prepared for the dry summers and snowy winters of Valle Nevado. The winter views from inside of the resort are unparalleled, and the slopes are ideal for beginners.
10. Palacio de la Moneda – Coin Palace
When visiting Santiago Chile, make a mandatory stop at the seat of the Chilean president, the Palacio de la Moneda (Coin Palace). Architect Joaquin Toesca built it in the 1700s in a neoclassical style. Roam through the courtyards or get a tour inside.
Get Closer to Chile
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